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Legislature Targets Arizona Corporation Commission's Renewable Goals

As Arizona’s utilities push for an increase in renewable energy, the Arizona Legislature is digging in its heels.

Last year, the Arizona Corporation Commission adopted clean energy standards that will require the utilities it regulates to gradually reduce its carbon footprint and cut all carbon emissions by 2050.

So far, Arizona’s major utilities are on board. But the GOP-dominated legislature wants to strip the five-member board of its power to set these goals.

Autumn Johnson of Western Resource Advocates says legislation to do that would likely be unconstitutional, because the commission shares power with the Legislature to promote health, safety and public peace.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that you should be regulating carbon if you’re concerned about public health and safety unless you’re a climate change denier,” Johnson said.

Backers of the legislation say that clean energy targets could lead to higher utility bills. They feel the commission’s power should be limited to setting rates.

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.